08/09/2017 08:30 BST | Updated 08/09/2017 08:30 BST

A First-Hand Perspective Of One Of The Places Where #LiteracyThrives

At Book Aid International, our staff has the great privilege of regularly visiting the libraries, schools, hospitals and refugee camps where the books we provide are helping literacy thrive. Meeting the people who are using these books to improve their lives is always inspiring and is one of the best parts of my job.

Of course, we could not send a single book without our wonderful supporters. I often wish that I could bring those supporters with me during my visits and show them the impact of their gifts, so I was delighted when People's Postcode Lottery contacted us to arrange a staff visit to one of our projects in Zanzibar.


Photo caption: Receiving one of our awards from players of People's Postcode Lottery. Players make much of our work possible. (Photo credit: Author's Own)

We were joined by People's Postcode Lottery Managing Director Jo Bucci, Customer Experience Operations Manager Louise Donkin and Network Solutions Architect Amjad Ali Shaikh. While Jo had visited one of our projects in Malawi previously, Amajad and Louise had never had the opportunity to see how the books players help to send are changing lives. I remember how affected I was by my first visit, and prior to the visit, I hoped that Amjad and Louise would find the experience as powerful as I did.

We first took Jo, Amajad and Louise to see one of the schools where our School Library in a Box project is providing access to books in the classrooms of some of Zanzibar's most remote and isolated schools.


Photo Caption: Children in Regeza Mwendo Primary School reading outside to avoid the heat of their classrooms. (Photo credit: Author's Own)

Seeing the staff reading with the children who have received books through players' support was truly inspiring, and the pupils got such a thrill from reading alongside Jo, Amajad and Louise.


Picture caption: People's Postcode Managing Director Jo Bucci reading with a Regeza Mwendo Primary School pupil. (Photo credit: Author's Own)

Players of People's Postcode Lottery are also funding reading promotion activities to celebrate International Literacy Day on 8 September in 11 African countries and territories, including Zanzibar. These events will allow libraries to celebrate literacy and invite more people into the library. It was wonderful to welcome People's Postcode Lottery staff into one of the libraries that will be a part of these events.


Picture caption: People's Postcode Lottery Staff Arriving at Unguja Library. (Photo credit: Author's Own)

Jo, Amajad and Louise also joined us for the opening of a new Children's Corner at Unguja Library, where reading activities created an atmosphere of joy and learning for both staff and children.


Photo Caption: Enjoying reading and learning in Unguja Library during the opening of Unguja Library's Children's Corner. (Photo credit: Author's Own)

Most important of all, the staff who visited the project have shared with us that they now see their own work in a new light:

Working in IT, it's easy to forget how important funds provided by players of People's Postcode Lottery are. On a daily basis, I'm usually preoccupied with fixing servers and software issues. The trip was wonderful and really made me appreciate my life in Edinburgh but also the fantastic organisation that I work for. It was so inspiring to see the difference made by the books players help to send.

- Amjad, IT Department of People's Postcode Lottery

We are delighted that Amjad's first visit to one of the places where literacy is thriving has given him a new understanding of his own work and how the funds provided by players of People's Postcode Lottery are changing lives. I would also like to extend a personal thanks to players for their funding, particularly for funding Zanzibar Library Service's International Literacy Day Celebrations on 8 September.

Players of People's Postcode Lottery have so far provided an outstanding £900,000 to help Book Aid International send books to those who need them most. In addition to the activities mentioned in this article, Players have funded the charity's award-winning Inspiring Readers programme in Kenya, Children's Corners across Sierra Leone and provided unrestricted funding to help the charity develop its services.

To stay up to date with Zanzibar's International Literacy Day celebrations and see more of the places where literacy is thriving, follow @book_aid. Find out more about how the charity is celebrating International Literacy Day on 8 September